Three Common Renter Damages at Move Out

Water damaged wood laminate

Water damaged wood laminate

One of the most stressful times for anyone is moving a household.  There’s sorting through all the personal property and figuring out what you’ll pack up and what gets tossed, finding a new place, and coordinating the actual move.  And if you have kids, you’ve just added a whole new dimension.   An additional stressor is wondering how much of the security deposit will be returned after you’ve completed the move out.  Here’s how that works.

The security deposit is your assurance (or security) that you will return the home to the landlord in the same condition as you received it, except for normal wear and tear.  It’s this last phrase of normal wear and tear that causes some question.  Normal wear and tear are those minor bumps and bruises that occur to a home despite reasonable precautions that a person takes to prevent any damage.  Examples might include small nail holes where pictures were hanging, a light wear pattern in carpet around a sofa, or light nicks on a cabinet without a handle caused by grabbing the door to open it.  These are generally unavoidable issues caused by normal use.

However, there are a few issues that are preventable that end up costing tenants as they leave.

1.  Flooring damage.  Flooring is easily the number one issue with most move outs.  Common examples of damage include, but are not limited to, spills, stains, heavy foot traffic as evidenced by dark paths through the carpet, and water damage to wood laminate flooring.  Pet stains are particularly troublesome, as they require replacement of the carpet and carpet pad, adding additional expense to the move-out bill.  Prevention of these issues is relatively simple, ranging from removing shoes once entering the home to cleaning up spills quickly and effectively.

2.  Wall damage.  While small nail holes for pictures are acceptable under most leases, large holes, such as those made by mounted flat screen brackets, are not.  Other common types of wall damage include stickers, dark marks where furniture was leaning against the wall, crayon, marker, and paint, soot from candles or fireplaces, and drywall damage caused by dents or objects pulling out, such as towel racks, as well as improper drywall repairs.  Marks and scuffs are easily removed right after they are made by wiping down the area with a damp cloth or with a specialty product, such as Magic Eraser.  Damage to drywall, such as repairing wall anchors, should be done by a qualified tradesman who will fill the hole and match the texture to the surrounding area prior to painting the area with the appropriate color and sheen.

3.  Neglect.  This is a broad category characterized by the long-term procrastination of regular maintenance to the home.  Dead or dying plants, damage to the air handler, and mineral build-up around faucets and on shower enclosures are just a few examples of neglect.  Watering plants, changing air filters monthly, and regular house cleaning are easy ways to address these specific issues.  When major items break, please contact the property manager immediately so the issue can be addressed. Property managers understand that sometimes things break, such as dishwashers.  However, tenants who ignore the maintenance need and do not report it take on responsibility for the item, which costs them in the end.

Believe me, the property manager would much rather receive a house in good condition after move out and return the security deposit than have to repair the home and charge the tenant for the damage. By taking care of the small things, you can be assured of receiving your full security deposit.